In “Bleeding Through”, our Once Upon A Time heroes do some paranormal research on the Wicked Witch, as she tries to motivate Rumplestilskin to become a willing partner. When it comes to relationships, we’ll take Regina and Robin Hood over Zelena and The Dark One any day.
- Director: Romeo Tirone
- Writer: Jane Espenson and Daniel T. Thomsen
- Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Michael Raymond-James, Colin O’Donoghue, Jared S. Gilmore, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire
Episode Title: “Bleeding Through”
Zelena stops by Regina’s house for a bit of verbal sparring while Rumple’s out retrieving Regina’s heart from Robin. Regina decides to turn to an unusual source for answers. She plans on summoning Cora to explain why she gave Zelena away. In the fairy flashback, we get the answer. Cora met and fell in love with a square-jawed specimen claiming to be a prince; but he turns out to be just a very posh gardener. Cora gets rebuffed when she confronts him, but winds up meeting the actual Prince Leopold (Snow’s dad), and charms him into a proposal. He breaks off his engagement to Princess Ava (Snow’s mom), which he quickly reinstates after Ava discovers Cora’s secret and outs her. This ruins her chance at happiness and forces her to give the baby away. Zelena’s spell will rewrite history. Snow, Emma, Henry and probably Regina won’t exist if Zelena succeeds in going back and stopping Ava. Zelena offers Rumple a chance to get in on the curse with her. He gets close (and how!) enough to try and steal back the Dark One’s dagger, but Zelena catches him in the act. Meanwhile, Regina and Robin spend the episode’s final moments getting close. Kisses for all!
- A Golden Ring: The Cora flashback was a tale as old as time, but told exceedingly well. What was truly rewarding was seeing Snow’s sainted parents doing wrong and being vulnerable or priggish. When Once Upon A Time is working at its highest capacity, it’s reinterpreting familiar characters through a slightly twisted lens. This week, that lens was simply another person’s perspective. It’s fascinating and very human.
- Different Women: All the scenes between Regina and Snow were fantastic, full of self-awareness and respect and maturity. Not so long ago they were still sniping at each other. It was great to see them contemplating their mothers as more complex individuals than previously thought. It’s a very grown up thing to discover, and neither flies off into histrionics (even Snow) about the shattering of that old image. It shows they’re both ready to confront whatever Zelena dishes out.
- Resilient Heart: Let’s talk about the kiss. This episode was also about furthering Regina and Robin’s relationship. Well done to director Romeo Tirone for photographing them more in a mood than in a forest, with that soft, flickering orange lighting against black. The romance has been well backed throughout this half of the season, not too slow but developing a little each time. That kiss was earned.
- Target Practice: The showdown between Rumple and Robin Hood was appropriately swift. But the device of Roland stepping into the wrong place at the wrong time has been used so often it’s less tense and more frustrating. Invest in one of those backpack-leashes when there’s a powerful sorcerer hunting you, Robin. Or just leave the kid out as bait.
- Bad Form: The Emma/Hook beats were small, but what we saw was a bit troubling. First, Hook apologizing for being cranky and looking tormented and drinking is less in the good captain’s line and more in Don Draper’s. Second, Emma’s capriciousness with magic was a little disconcerting. It certainly does not augur well for her keeping those powers, or for the characters stopping the Wicked Witch before she casts the curse.
“Bleeding Through” aligns the board for whatever it is the writers want to do with the final four episodes of the season. Even though the object of the hour was for everybody to be on the same page, it never felt perfunctory because the episode had richer emotions at its core. A Cora fairy-back and some Regina soul-searching are always great, but “Bleeding Through” addressed how both Snow and Regina have evolved.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Happy with how Regina and Robin are progressing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.